I brought with me my copy of Conrad's The Secret Agent, but I preferred to read first the combined volume containing Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer. Now, it's well known that Heart of Darkness was the basis for the movie Apocalypse Now, which I wouldn't recommend sitting through unless you are going to go whole-hog and sit through the Redux version. However, in this book, the shorter story, The Secret Sharer, is placed first. Based on the two dozen pages I've read already and the thoughtful introduction by Joyce Carol Oates, it's started to sound vaguely... familiar. *cough*Fight Club*cough*
Before I launch into a maniacal (and obviously farcical) rant about how Conrad should never have stolen the story from Palahuniak-ack-ack-ack (I oughtta know by now how to say his name (and yes, I'm aware it's mere Internet clicks away)), I'll stop for a minute because I don't want to ruin anything for anyone. What I'd really like to say without giving anything away is that Conrad's story is not nearly so artful as Fight Club is... he makes few attempts to hide the story's premise, as JCO said herself, he underlines it too thoroughly. I haven't read the book behind Fight Club yet (I will read American Gods next, Joe), but when I do, I will check it for literary allusions to Joseph Conrad's work.
This is so COOL! I am learning (self-directed) about writing!*
Maybe Chuck didn't know the story (if he's so poorly read that I am more cultured than he is), but it just goes to show that many stories have been told before, but they may be told again with greater effect. I have no intent to launch on a project to remake anything, but I will not be so discouraged when someone points out that an idea of mine (or its execution) is not original.
Frankly, seriously entertaining the idea of writing something substantial. I might compose something and then just burn it. Some of you know what a fan I am of Navajo sand painting. After many careful hours of spreading colored sand to make a perfect picture, the artist will destroy the finished product because, for them, the joy is in the doing. For me, the same. I think similar reasoning underlies my indifference towards televised sporting events. Though watching a game does give people something to talk about, I'd prefer it be something uplifting (and pretentious) like literary criticism and comparison. If only I could have those kinds of discussion without the heady pretentious self-interest. If only you could see me when I made my own literary discovery today (no matter how trivial figuring out the 'basis' for Fight Club may be), you'd know why, no questions asked.
Could it be that I feel passionate about something? GEE WHIZ, FINALLY.
* I have been moving myself through "units" of literature, sticking to a particular genre (spy) or topic (books that are movies I've already seen, instead of the other way 'round) or style (short fiction) and it's working well, so far. I'm getting a feel for the nuances and subtle differences between authors and stuff. I'm a very on-the-fly, intuitive sort of writer, so I let things seep in through my skin until they're incorporated in the neurons that link my brain and my fingers and their use is automatic.